Phosphoinositides (PtdInsPs) are lipids that mediate a range of conserved cellular processes in eukaryotes. These include the transduction of ligand binding to cell surface receptors, vesicular transport and cytoskeletal function. The nature and functions of PtdInsPs were initially elucidated through biochemical experiments in mammalian cells. However, over the years, genetic and cell biological analysis in a range of model organisms including S. cerevisiae, D. melanogaster and C. elegans have contributed to an understanding of the involvement of PtdInsPs in these cellular events. The fruit fly Drosophila is an excellent genetic model for the analysis of cell and developmental biology as well as physiological processes, particularly analysis of the complex relationship between the cell types of a metazoan in mediating animal physiology. PtdInsP signalling pathways are underpinned by enzymes that synthesise and degrade these molecules and also by proteins that bind to these lipids in cells. In this review we provide an overview of the current understanding of PtdInsP signalling in Drosophila. We provide a comparative genomic analysis of the PtdInsP signalling toolkit between Drosophila and mammalian systems. We also review some areas of cell and developmental biology where analysis in Drosophila might provide insights into the role of this lipid-signalling pathway in metazoan biology. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Phosphoinositides.